Shoppers prefer to make phone calls for last-minute, online Valentine’s Day gifts, survey shows

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Online retailers should prepare for an influx of calls in the next 48 hours as over half (53%) of UK shoppers say they prefer to talk before placing their last-minute Valentine’s Day gift orders, according to new research released today by ResponseTap.

At least £986m will be spent on Valentine’s gifts this year, with two thirds leaving it to the last week. A third of all purchases are now made online, yet half of shoppers say they’re more likely to buy from an online retailer that clearly displays a phone number to call and ask questions about their purchase. Top reasons for a call include consumers wanting to check the retailer is bona-fide, and that their gift will arrive on time, avoiding them ending up in the doghouse.

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers, revealed the top five gifts people say they want to call retailers about are:

1.       Meal in a restaurant                                                      

2.       Weekend breaks/holidays                                       

3.       Flowers                                                                               

4.       Cinema theatre tickets   

5.       Perfume/makeup/aftershave                   

The research results are a reminder of the importance of thinking about the complementary nature of clicks and calls: 64% of people get frustrated when they’re only able to interact with a company online.

Bhavesh Vaghela, director, ResponseTap, said: “The Valentine’s Day shopping season shows how, even in a world where people increasingly research, consumers still really value the tried and tested phone call. Certainly when leaving things to the last minute, we like to speak to a real person about our purchases and we trust retailers more if they offer this human interaction.”

As a result, retailers are missing out on potential revenues by not keeping track of entire customer journeys across both on-and-offline channels, said ResponseTap. 

Phone calls still play a vital role in how consumers shop online, yet the second a customer picks up the phone they are ‘off the grid’ for most companies, ResponseTap claims. Retailers have to understand more about who is calling them, and when and why they are calling them, if they are to accurately attribute sales and make informed decisions about their marketing spend, it adds.